A variety show isn’t just a very pleasant smattering of tasters, but a study in miniature of what comedians are finding funny these days. Recurring themes were Ikea, the Nazis, Northern Ireland, the Guardian, and I guess it’s still okay to make fun of the travelling community because I have heard more than one dodgy dig at them this Fringe. Cultural stereotypes aside this was a show of an immensely high standard, and I’ve picked up a couple of new favourites in the process.
Kicking off were our pals from a land down under the Axis of Awesome, who played a rather middling tune in which the song is both an account of a night in a club but also the song one might hear in a club. It must be tough working in a medium where The Lonely Island have done everything better. However, their updated version of Four Chord Song was sublime and now only vaguely resembles the 23m-viewed version on YouTube.
The first pleasant surprise of the night was Hal Cruttenden, who, after rather losing me with some thoroughly unimaginative jokes about the Northern Irish, won me right back with a joyous broadside against homophobia and racism in football and the dickishness found throughout the game in general and John Terry in particular.
He was followed by Tim Vine. In his ten-minute set he ran through dozens of wonderfully clever one-liners and when he stumbled he covered so beautifully it was as funny as the intentional stuff. Maybe an entire hour would be a bit intense, but this sample was flawless.
David O’Doherty had a wonderfully understated segment spent sitting on a stool with a tiny piano, spending the entire set building up to and playing his wonderful little song called ‘Life’ which begins ‘life, life life life, lifey life life.’ He is an extremely charming performer and well worth seeing in full. The show was capped off by the acappella group The Blanks, who knocked off a range of fun pop covers with nerdy panache.
Slightly disappointing were Jared Christmas, who spent most of his set making uninspired gags about his penis, and Trevor Noah, who only had some middling material on show. Otherwise it was a pretty fantastic evening and proof that there’s a pretty wide range of stand-up of a very high quality available this year.